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What is Bicalutamide?

By J.M. Densing
Updated May 17, 2024
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Bicalutamide, also known by the brand name Casodex, is an oral medication that is used in the treatment of prostate cancer. It belongs to a group of drugs called non-steroidal antiandrogens, and it works by blocking male hormones. It's always taken along with another drug, and the two work together to stop the spread and growth of cancer cells. Bicalutamide should only be taken under the supervision of a doctor and all dosage instructions should be followed carefully. It may cause a variety of unpleasant side effects such as body aches, dizziness, fever, and nausea.

Bicalutamide is used in the treatment of metastatic prostate cancer. In metastatic cancer, the disease has started in the prostate before spreading to other parts of the body. Typically the drug is taken once a day, either in the morning or evening. It comes in tablet form and can be taken without food. It's important to follow the doctor's instructions exactly and to take the correct amount. During treatment, injections of a type of drug called a luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone will be given at set intervals, such as once every four weeks.

To avoid harmful drug interactions, the patient should make sure to discuss all other medications, including vitamins and herbal supplements, with his or her doctor before taking bicalutamide. It may cause problems with liver function and use should be avoided if a patient has ever had liver disease. It should never be used by a woman because if she becomes pregnant it can cause abnormalities in the unborn baby.

As a non-steroidal antiandrogen, bicalutamide works by blocking the action of androgens, or male hormones, such as testosterone. When used together with a luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone such as leuprolide, bicalutamide helps to stop the growth and spread of cancer cells. It does not destroy existing cancer cells, so it is not considered a cure. Even if a patient feels better, he or she should not discontinue use unless instructed by the doctor.

Potentially serious side effects that a doctor should be notified about include body aches, fever, chills, nausea, stomach pain, shortness of breath, chest pain, cough, swollen hands or feet, easy bruising or bleeding, or blood in the urine. Some common milder side effects are dizziness, weakness, headaches, hot flashes, back pain, digestive issues, weight gain or loss, cold symptoms, swollen or painful breasts, loss of sexual desire, and increased urination at night. Liver damage is possible and blood should be tested and monitored to ensure the medication is working with minimum possible side effects.

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